Just to start things off and get everyone really hungry, here is a picture of one of my favorite treats. This is taiyaki, which is a fish shaped pancake with filling. Usually this will be sweetened red bean paste, but I also have had them with custard. They are about the size of the palm of your handy and can be eaten in 2-3 bites. Good thing we usually buy them in a 5 pack, and I love when we get to watch them being made and then get them hot and fresh.
Another fun thing here in Japan is their love of vending machines. Seriously, everything can be found in a vending machine. Not kidding, they even sell cartons of eggs from vending machines. But this picture is of hot and cold beverages. It was the first time I saw one like this (or rather this large) so I had to take a picture. It was right outside a bathroom, so me stopping to take a picture definitely struck the locals as odd. Hey, I live in rural Japan, what can I say, somethings will just always look out of place. Almost always, it has to do with me trying to take a picture!
Here you can see the cold drink selection closer up. Pretty interesting!
I also found this too cute to resist taking a picture of at the market.
Although not Japanese, I did take a picture of this because it is my new favorite bar...EVER! This was so good. I loved this flavor, and this company in general, but this flavor was insanely good. I need to get more. I picked this up at FNCE.
Can you believe there is a Hawaiian restaurant just off base? Actually, you probably can since many natives in Hawaii have Asian backgrounds. So, this is Tubes, which is by the base and offers some Hawaiian food along with a surf shop.
First up is this:
No, no one ordered a toxic, radioactive soda. Trust me, the radiation here is not making the soda turn green. This is actually a popular soda here, and it is melon flavored. Melon is a popular flavor for many things in Japan. Ryan just happens to like this one, and has fun with the color.
For dinner I had some shrimp. They love mayo here and may have gone a little crazy with it. Next time I will ask for no mayo, although this will leave me with dry salad. Perhaps soy sauce?
Ryan had the loco moco, which is a traditional Hawaiian dish with rice, hamburger and egg. He knew to order this because he has had it before.
So I did promise some views of the local nature. It is really pretty this time of year, well it was at this time because it was more fall like weather (it snowed here yesterday!). I have not had a fall season in so long so I almost forgot what it was like. The colors were amazing and I really loved driving around northern Japan (Honshu only, not so north as to be in Hokkaido) this time of year.
These pictures were taken around the pond at Komaki resort, which is a hotel with some public gardens, some restaurants, and an onsen. More on onsens later once I actually try one. These are Japanese hot baths, where everyone bathes in the nude. Of course it is separated into male and female private bathing areas. These are very popular and I promise to share more on this later.
In the meantime, here are some shots around the pond.
You can see the leaves here are just starting to turn and there is more green than reds and oranges.
Lots of koi swimming here. I swear I saw one bold fish changing a duck shark attack style. It was terrifying! The duck didn't seem phased, but I don't think it realized how close that fish was following behind.
It just wouldn't be Japan if there weren't some characters and faces around. I love it!
I also loved that I got to pet this horse. I miss horses and I hope to get back into riding soon.
This is the house of a teacher and the president or person that started the first bank of Japan. One of his students opened this resort years ago, and in honor of this teacher named the park after him and transported his home here. No one lives here but it can be used for functions. I am amazed when I hear of buildings being transported to other locations.
Inside the resort they have some restaurants with live performances nightly, and then this display set up, which I forget exactly what it is form, but I see it everywhere. I think it has to do with a major festival in the region.
Which brings me to my last set of pictures. This is Phada's Thai, which was suggested by a friend, and visited cautiously because Ryan is not a huge pad Thai fan so we were not sure what else they would have that he might like.
We started with spring rolls.
I ordered the shrimp pad Thai because I love shrimp pad Thai. Let me say that again, but a little differently. I love THIS pad Thai. Holy cow! This is the best pad Thai I have ever had in my entire life, and Ryan even liked it (so much so that we have been back since and he ordered chicken pad Thai...and ate it all!). I am not kidding and I have no idea what made this so special, but it was good. It was darn good, and I intend to go back often!
Ryan ordered the Thai basil chicken, which he said was really good. I am so happy this place was a hit because every once in a while I just get a craving for good Thai food, and now it is just down the road.
I also really like that for vegetarians they can use tofu in any dish on the menu. It even says this on the menu so you will know up front that you have options there as a vegetarian and they are understanding of vegetarian diets. For many Japanese if you don't see the meat, then it is vegetarian. They are becoming more and more understanding, but having meat in a broth or sauce means vegetarian to many Japanese, when for most vegetarians that would not be acceptable. So, I am very happy with Phada's, and we will be going back.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever tried True Bar? What is your favorite Thai dish? Have you ever heard of an onsen (or visited one)?